Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig
is a member of Leibniz Association
Link to Leibniz Association
The Herpetology section works on amphibians and reptiles from all over the world, with a special geographical focus on Europe, Africa, South America, Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The section participates in the curriculum of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Bonn (Bachelor Biology, Master OEP, PhD).
Research focuses on taxonomy, diversity, aut-/synecology, macroecology, species conservation, biogeography, species distribution modelling, evolution, and phylogenetics.
The constantly growing scientific collection currently houses > 100.000 specimens and curated by Dr. Dennis Rödder and Dr. Claudia Koch.
In addition, the Herpetology section contains scientific animal keeping facilities. A multitude of tropic amphibians and reptiles are kept and bred in this modern terraria installation, serving Bachelor and Master students to investigate different aspects:
Herpetology in Bonn has its beginning already in the 19th century, with the person of Georg August Goldfuss (1782-1848), not to forget herpetologically important scientists as Franz Herman Troschel and Franz Leydig who were teaching Zoology at Bonn University leaving a vast amount of herpetological work.
In the first time of its existence, amphibians and reptiles were only playing a minor role in "Museum Koenig". Although the founder, Alexander Koenig, brought also large herpetological collections to Bonn from his expeditions, the specimens were taken to the herpetologist Lorenz Müller from Munich for final determination.
The herpetology section at Museum Koenig was initiated in 1951 by Adolf von Jordans, Alexander Koenig's successor. First curator was Karl F. Buchholz until 1967 who was mainly concerned with the herpetology of Greece and who augmented the collection up to 8.500 specimens. Buchholz was followed by Ulrich F. Gruber taking over this research focus, extending the collection up to 9400 specimens. In 1971, Gruber changed to the Zoological State Collection, Munich, and Wolfgang Böhme became curator of the herpetology section for nearly 40 years. With the beginning of 2011, Dennis Rödder has taken over the curatorship of the section resp. collection which is and has been constantly increased by field trips of curators, PhD students and Master students. Significant contributions came from the Near East (Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Emirates), and from Africa, emphasis of Museum Koenig (Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, Zambia), but also from the Macaronesian area (Selvagens, Canaries, Cap Verdans), from Asia (Kalimantan, Vietnam) and South America (Bolivia, Costa Rica).
In 1977, a historical very valuable collection with appr. 5000 specimens from the Zoological Museum of the Göttingen University was brought to Bonn and thus was saved from being ruined, but was instead again accessible to the scientific public.
In 1978, two new staff members, Ursula Bott and Wolfgang Bischoff (the latter meanwhile retired) who had and have a great part in the reputation of the Bonn herpetology.
In 1979, foundation in the Museum Koenig of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (S.E.H.), an international society dealing only with questions of herpetology.
OEP-Free-1U: Zoogeography and ecology of marine organisms in tropical habitats (with excursion to the Red Sea, Dahab/Egypt, together with H. BLECKMANN)
OEP-Free-1D, Evolution and Biodiversity of lower Vertebrates (lectures/practical together with F. HERDER, A. SCHMITZ and T. ZIEGLER)
OEP-Free-1G, Ecology and zoogeography of the Pannonian area, with a field trip to the Neusiedler lake
OEP-WP27 / OEP-Free-IND Student´s research projects (individual practical)
OEP-Free-IND Programming in R
OEP-Free-IND Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Advised thesis, completed
BEHR, N.: Comparative larval development and behavioral thermoregulation in the Yellow-Bellied toad Bombina variegata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Anura: Bombinatoridae). Bachelor thesis
ENGLER, J.: Entwicklung und Anwendung eines kombinierten Methodenansatzes zur Analyse landschaftsspezifischer Effekte auf den Genfluss terrestrischer Organismen. PhD thesis
DRÜKE, Y.: Comparative analysis of the feeding ecology of the gecko Hemidactylus mabouia in its invasive and native range. Bachelor thesis
MAY, G.: Using spatial data in R: Modeling potential dispersal pathways of an invasive amphibian. Bachelor thesis
WEISHAAR, M.: Biogeography and environmental niche evolution in the genus Pelusios. Master thesis
FERREIRA, R. B.: Impacts on threatened amphibians in a Brazillan Atlantic Forest mosaic. PhD thesis (scientific committee member, Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center, Utah State University, USA)
FONSECA, E. E.: Potencial invasor de serpentes exóticas no Brasil. Master thesis (Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz)
HÖRNES, D.: Herpetofauna of the Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul, Peru. Master thesis
KLEIN, B.: Entwicklungsbiologie ausgewählter Pfeilgiftfrösche der Gattung Ranitomeya. Master thesis
KRINGS, M.: Tadpole descriptions of different poison dart frogs of the genus Ranitomeya (Anura: Dendrobatidae) and their morphological comparison. Master thesis
LEMM, L.: Environmental niche evolution in the amphibian family Mantidactylidae. Master thesis
LINDEN, J. K.: Assessing biogeographical patterns in American freshwater turtles using a node-based analysis technique. Master thesis
MEYERS, E.: Patterns in the distribution, population structure and habitat use of the Angel Shark (Squatina squatina). Master thesis
POKRANT, F.: Phylogeny of the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) based on Integrative Taxonomy. Master thesis
VOGT, S.: Invasionsbiologie von Xenopus laevis: Charakteriserung des Beutespektrums. Master thesis
MÖDRATH, C.: Habitatnutzung von Großsäugern in der ariden Otjimbingwe Region von Namibia. Master thesis
REICH, A.: Behavioral thermoregulation of tropical dart-poison frog larvae of the genus Epipedobates (Anura: Dendrobatidae) across multiple developmental stages. Bachelor thesis
MARQUES DA SILVA, R.: Compositcao, distrubuicao e historia natural da cumunidade de serpentes do litoral notre da Bahia, Brasil. Master thesis (Universidate Estadual de Santa Cruz)
FLECKS, M.: A systematic revision of the African members of the genus Lygodactylus Gray, 1864. Diploma thesis
GÜNTHER, F.: Which importance has the Red River in Vietnam for the distribution of Goniurosaurus (Squamata: Eublepharidae) and Cyrtodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae)? A Survey based on SDMs and niche comparisons. Master thesis
KURTH, M.: Vergleichende Reproduktionsbiologie und Larvalentwicklung von Epipedobates anthonyi / E. tricolor. Bachelor thesis
LIERZ, T.: Räumlich explizite Analysen der morphologischen Variation iberischer Lacertiden. Master thesis
PERTEL, W.: Predicting the potential distribution of amphibians in the central corridor of the Atlantic rainforest. Master (Universidate Estadual de Santa Cruz)
DUBKE, M.: Taxonomy and Zoogeographie of Ptychadena (Boulenger, 1817): Quantity of cryptic batrachodiversity? Bachelor thesis
HÖRNES, D.: Current and past diversity patterns of North American chelonians: is there evidence of historical community reshuffling? Bachelor thesis
NEKUM, S.: Kartierung und potentielle Verbreitung der Zauneidechse Lacerta agilis im Stadtgebiet von Köln. Diploma thesis (supervisor: W. BÖHME)
HAHN, G.: The potential distribution of Varanus niloticus and V. ocellatus. Diploma thesis (Trier University, supervisor: S. LÖTTERS)
WEINSHEIMER, F.: The herpetofauna of the Kimboza Forest with special focus on the Turquoise Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi). Diploma thesis (supervisor: W. BÖHME)
WEIMANN, T.: Comparisons of climate niches in Neotropical poison frogs (Dendrobates). Diploma thesis (Trier University, supervisor: M. VEITH)
The first herpetological specimens housed at ZFMK were collected by Alexander Koenig during his youth. Significant increases of the collection were accomplished during his expeditions to Africa, including collections from the Canary Islands, from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan. Also his employees frequently collected amphibian and reptile specimens. The scientific curation and determination was realized by Oskar Boettger from Senkenberg, later by Lorenz Müller from Munich.
Koenig’s successor Adolf von Jordans founded only in 1951 a section of herpetology with an own curatorship, a position which was first held by Karl F. Buchholz. After his death in 1967 Ulrich Gruber from Munich became the second curator, who was followed by Wolfgang Böhme from Kiel in 1971. During his curatorship till 2010, Böhme increased the collection from 9,500 specimens to more than 105,000 specimens making it comparable to the herpetological collections from Senkenberg (Frankfurt) or the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (Munich), although being one century older!
Being a pivotal part of herpetological research facility, numerous taxonomic data was generated from the collection, which also allowed to assess morphometric, ecological and parasitological information. This illustrates the multidimensionality of such a biodiversity archive which is not only used by ZFMK researchers but also by the international research community via loans and guest visits. The major research focus at ZFMK is taxonomy, wherein the herpetological collection in Bonn houses more than 670 type specimens, including 335 holotypes. These specimens being the ultimate reference for species names are irreplaceable and therefore the most valuable part of the collection.
A remarkable fact is that the comparatively young herpetological collection at ZFMK Bonn received a historical dimension by incorporating other, much older collections from Universities which were threatened by budget cuts and increasing space demands of other research interests. Since 2011 Dennis Rödder, a former PhD student at ZFMK, is in charge of the curation of this valuable collection.
Since 2014 he is supported by another former PhD student, Claudia Koch, who fills a newly created position as second curator.